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SeaWorld To Build New Entrance Shaped Like A Wave

A planned transformation of the guest entrance at SeaWorld San Diego was approved today by the California Coastal Commission, which wrapped up two days of meetings in Oceanside.

An orca whale at SeaWorld in July 2011.
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Above: An orca whale at SeaWorld in July 2011.

The entrance will be known as "Explorer's Reef" and will feature a beach-themed ticketing area and a giant wave sculpture designed to make it appear to guests that they are going underwater.

The area just inside the entrance will look like the ocean floor and will have four touch pools holding about 5,000 fish.

"Explorer's Reef will transform our guests' arrival by providing them with unparalleled welcoming services and then transporting them into the world of the sea as they pass under an iconic and stunning wave," said John Reilly, president of the park. "The promise of SeaWorld will be delivered immediately, giving our guests opportunities to connect with amazing animals as soon as they enter the park."

SeaWorld also hopes the new entrance will be more efficient for customers. Attendance increased by 14 percent from 2010 to 2011, and SeaWorld officials said they expected a similar jump this year.

Construction is set to start in December and is due to be completed in 16 months.

The California Coastal Commission has jurisdiction over SeaWorld because it sits on Mission Bay.

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